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Illegal gas fitter in court over unsafe boiler

Date:
19 December 2013

An illegal gas fitter has been ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service and received a suspended prison sentence after a boiler he installed at a family home in Wirral was found to be ‘immediately dangerous’.

Janusz Potocki fitted the boiler at a house on Larch Grove in Prenton near Birkenhead on 5 November 2011 despite not being registered with Gas Safe – the official list of gas engineers.

The 50-year-old was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it emerged the flue on the boiler had been badly installed, creating at potential risk that carbon monoxide could be released into the home.

Wirral Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Potocki had returned to the house on several occasions after the owners reported the boiler was not working properly. They eventually contacted the manufacturer, who sent out their own engineer.

He identified the boiler as being immediately dangerous and this opinion was confirmed when another Gas Safe-registered engineer visited the property to carry out repairs. The issue was then reported to the Gas Safe Register and HSE.

The court was told Mr Potocki had received a letter from HSE in September 2011 warning him that he needed to be a member of the Gas Safe Register after he allegedly carried out a gas safety check for a landlord at another property.

He signed a document to acknowledge receiving the letter but despite this still went ahead with the boiler installation in Prenton.

Janusz Potocki pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 by carrying out gas work without being registered and failing to make sure the flue on the boiler was safe.

Mr Potocki, of Tudor Road in Birkenhead, was ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service and received a six-month suspended prison sentence, which means he will be sent to prison if he commits another offence in the next two years. He also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £3,500 during the sentencing hearing on 17 December 2013.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Richard Clarke said:

“All gas engineers must, by law, be on the Gas Safe Register to prove they are qualified to carry out work safely. Mr Potocki ignored this and put lives in danger as a result.

“The boiler he installed at a home in Prenton was classed as ‘immediately dangerous’ by engineers from the Gas Safe Register. Quite simply, he should never have taken on the job, especially as he had already received a warning from HSE.

“I’d urge anyone who hires a gas engineer to check their Gas Safe ID card to ensure that they are suitably qualified to carry out the work.”

Russell Kramer, Chief Executive for Gas Safe Register, added:

“Badly fitted and poorly maintained gas appliances can lead to gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s vital, therefore, if you are employing an engineer to fit, fix or service gas appliances that you make sure they are Gas Safe registered.

“You can check if they are on the register by looking on Gas Safe Register’s website and by asking to see the engineers Gas Safe ID card when they arrive at your door.”

To find a registered gas engineer, or to check whether someone is registered, visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 states: “No employer shall allow any of his employees to carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting or service pipework and no self-employed person shall carry out any such work, unless the employer or self-employed person, as the case may be, is a member of a class of persons approved for the time being by the Health and Safety Executive.”
  3. Regulation 27(1) states: “No person shall install a gas appliance to any flue unless the flue is suitable and in a proper condition for the safe operation of the appliance.”
  4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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